Local News Since 1890 Now Online!

Archive for the ‘Children and Family’ Category

Pursuing your passion

In Children and Family, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:36 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I once read that great things are unique and unconventional. I’m certain that’s true and in order to achieve great things we, ourselves, must be equally unique and unconventional. We have to step outside our comfort zones. Or, as is often the case with me, run screaming outside them and be willing to screw up big time and embarrass ourselves in the process. To do any less will mean perpetual mediocrity.

I used to believe that everyone searches for purpose in life. But, what I’ve learned in my nearly half-century on this earth, is that there are people who just don’t care. That’s not meant to sound harsh, I just mean that day-to-day living is, for all practical reasons, their “purpose.”

Still, some can find meaning in the most superficial of accomplishments however self-serving others might see them. Achieving great things means different things to different people, some more superficial than others. But it’s all in how you look at it.

In my experience, finding that sense of self-worth is incredibly difficult and a constant personal journey for me. I have no real answers to how to get there, but I have discovered that the path begins with three steps – locate your passion, apply your talent and help others. Let’s look at the details.

First, “locate your passion.” According to Dictionary.com, the most accurate definition of the word “passion” in this context is, “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Such as, “he has a ‘passion’ for music.”

My friend Jim Karns, and the rest of “The Brothers & Co.” and I find some of our purpose in bringing laughter and music to others.

This is probably the most difficult part of the process because even the very concept is ambiguous. I know it’s always been hard for me to nail it down and then figure out how that fits with work, family responsibilities and goals.

Finding your passion requires a great deal of personal exploration, reflection, and trial and error. The journey to discovering your passion is the search for that one “thing” that makes you forget to eat or go to the bathroom.

Whenever I hear someone talk about “passion,” particularly related to an occupation or job, it usually comes from some crunchy granola-type artist or non-profit worker. I’m not sure I’ve ever found a single, motivating passion in my life. I have several, all of which have equal importance to who I am. I’m still working on it, and it’s very likely to be a continuing effort of weeks, months, or even years.

Second on my list is, “apply your talent.” Here the idea is to take whatever talents you have – natural or learned, yes there are both – and apply that skill and energy to your passion.

For example, let’s say your passion turns out to be writing. You’ll probably first want to decide what kind of writer you want to be. Do you pen Shakespearean drama, or do your talents flow more towards “Fifty Shades of Grey?” What makes you want to write? What kind of writing makes you want to sit down and just let the stories flow onto your computer screen, to the exclusion of everything else? That’s where applying your talent to your passion really comes into play.

Third, and possibly the most rewarding and important of your first steps, is helping others. As you achieve a certain level of awareness and success, it becomes more important for you to share your knowledge and understanding with those less accomplished.

This in no way implies that you have to be an expert or have every aspect of your life’s pursuit nailed down. It just means that you should try to help those who may not be as advanced in their search. Mentoring is one of the most rewarding of experiences to come out of this process.

Mentoring is not the only way to help people while continuing your personal growth. I’ve found that volunteering to work in an organization or for a cause that falls within your passion interest can also be incredibly valuable to both the beneficiaries of the effort and to yourself.

Giving your life more meaning by pursuing a personal passion is not easy and it’s certainly not right for everyone. We only get one life and one future so don’t waste it.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.  More at gerydeer.com

 

It’s not me, it’s you

In Children and Family, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on February 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAre the people around you accepting of changes you make in your life for the better? In other words, if you altered major factors in your life right now, in positive ways, would your friends and family support and encourage you?

That’s a problem many people face when they realize there are things they’d like to improve about themselves, particularly if they involve major changes in lifestyle, work, or personal relationships.

Let’s face it, when you decide to make a major transformation in your life, the world around you can also change dramatically. Those close to you may have trouble adjusting to your alterations. A good, albeit extreme, example might be when someone quits drinking alcohol.

Alcoholics or even people with a moderate level of alcohol consumption have reported that after they go on the wagon they lose friends and even family contacts because of it. In that situation, it’s most likely because those people also have a problem with drinking and are uncomfortable being around someone who has made the decision to stop.

Sometimes, making a change requires major alterations in lifestyle. You might change your eating to help lose weight or quit smoking or look outside your home area for a job change. All of this can be upsetting or even intimidating to people around you. And whether your closest ties will accept your changes and support you or not can affect your success. Case in point – my choice to create a healthier lifestyle for myself.

Because of childhood health issues, I’ve always felt I wasn’t as strong as I could be. And, with the half-century mark just around the corner for me, I’ve spent the last six or seven months thinking about how to shore up my overall health.

Watching my mother deteriorate from Alzheimer’s disease and my father’s struggle with Parkinson’s and diabetes, and knowing I really can’t do anything to prevent those things entirely, I am still determined to give myself the best shot at the longest, healthiest life possible. So, a few months ago, I started making more dramatic changes in how I eat, handle stress – that is, taking down time – and getting exercise.

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

I’ve always been a pretty active person, bicycling, general manual work, at home and around our farm, always felt like it was enough to keep me in decent physical shape. I was wrong, but it’s always been hard for me to wrap my head around the idea of “exercising” for no productive purpose. The thing is, I was my own worst critic. This was for a constructive and productive purpose – to help my strength and endurance so I could better handle aging and illness as time goes on. Once I accepted that, I was on my way.

I haven’t talked to family much about it, other than to say that I have started swimming. I’ve adjusted my work and home schedules around it – making all of this a priority because if I don’t, it won’t be successful.

But my close friends are looking at me sometimes like I’ve got three heads. Rarely has anyone seen me dressed in anything but boots, jeans, or business attire. I’ve never been one to sport an athletic wardrobe, yet suddenly, there I am in warm ups and workout shoes. Granted, I’m a bit set in my ways, so their disbelief is as much my fault as theirs.

No one’s been unsupportive, though. In fact, quite the opposite. I’ve felt better than I have in years, and that probably shows just in my activity level. Changes like this can be incredibly obvious and might only affect those around you in that you’re choosing a bowl of mixed raw veggies at the big game party, instead of downing a whole bag of Cheetos.

Also, I’m certainly not suggesting you should be all smug and superior like, “See what I’m doing? You should too.” What’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for them. Earnest Hemingway said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” But if people can’t accept that you want to improve yourself then it’s their issue, not yours.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

 

The invisible side of caregiving.

In Children and Family, finances, Health, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

12191385_10153464406329342_2088873762632508759_oWhen you think of the term “caregiver,” you might have the image in your head of the dutiful family member looking out for an elderly parent or disabled child. What you see in public or on the surface is someone helping a senior citizen do her shopping or teaching a child with limited mobility to use an iPad. But, it’s the stuff you never see that is really the hard part of the job.

Caring for a family member is not something that comes with many benefits. Actually, there is only one benefit – looking after your loved one. Yes, there are some people who get paid to take care of a family member, but that’s rare and extremely difficult to

15992247_10154565059144342_1021060654_o

Shower prep for caregivers can be like gearing up for battle. Helping a senior parent with every day personal care can be hard to get used to – for both – but extremely necessary.

16009843_10154565059109342_821121491_o

Medicines must be cataloged, dosed, and set into daily dispense containers. Tracking of administration is also necessary to ensure proper care, safety and financial maintenance.

Personal care is one of the hardest parts of caring for a senior parent. Different than helping a child with these issues, an elderly adult has a different perception of self-sufficiency and personal dignity. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for my father that he now needs help just to do something as simple as shaving or taking a shower.

As a Parkinson’s sufferer, Dad can’t hold his hands still enough to shave with a safety razor and we’ve had to go to an electric model. He does his best to try to do it on his own, but his hands can’t apply any pressure to the razor on his face so it misses, well, pretty much everything. So once a week, we do a complete, clean shave starting with a trimmer.

Showers also require some consideration to personal dignity while trying to ensure complete cleanliness. When I help Dad with a shower, it’s like gearing up for battle. It’s tough to get used to, for both of us. But we do our best. I just try to make sure he gets in and out without injury, get him clean and get him dressed. How would you feel if, suddenly, your children had to help you with trimming nails, combing hair, or washing? You have to be aware of your charge’s discomfort while still meeting the needs.

Managing medications is also a challenge for caregivers. I’m actually pretty lucky in our situation because Dad’s meds – for now at least – can be divided into two daily packets. Every Sunday, I refill a daily box dispenser and we have a record book to record every dose administered and by whom.

14192078_10154177027939342_4999691246789055042_nMoney is probably the biggest sore spot for many caregivers as well because we end up having to handle our own homes as well as the finances of our charge. It wasn’t long after my mother became ill that I learned who the money manager of the house was as I grew up.

As is common with many elderly folks, Dad was letting bills go unpaid, utilities were being cut off, debt was mounting and statements lay unopened, piling up on the kitchen table – Never again. My siblings and I took over managing his money and paid off all his major debt so we only have living expenses, medicines and doctor bills to worry about.

The problem is that things won’t stay that way. People don’t understand how little Medicare and its supplements really cover and the expenses continue to mount as a senior’s care grows more complicated because things like Parkinson’s continue to progress.

170812_481608509341_4854293_o

Adjusting work to caregiver life is rarely easy, sometimes it is impossible. Many caregivers have to choose one over the other.

Naturally, The U.S. Congress is far too busy voting itself another ridiculous raise and cutting Social Security to bother considering how to better spend money to care for its citizens. After all, it’s “our” money. And there is no outside financial support for caregivers.

So, the bills continue to roll in – co-pays, lift chairs, vaccinations, home care (yes, it’s mostly self-pay), unforeseen changes in the health of the patient and the understanding that with Parkinson’s, diabetes and glaucoma, my father will get worse, even with the best possible care.

Tons of other things come into play too. When you’re a caregiver, you’re often the housekeeper, accountant, chef, chauffeur, nurse, clothes and dishwasher, and much more. The rest of the world doesn’t see the countless hours spent making sure the things like cracker packets and juice bottles are stored in a way he can easily open them with limited mobility.

Over the years, I’ve written many times about my experiences in helping to care for my parents. But people I meet always seem to be shocked how much we have to do that no one ever sees. So, when you see someone out in public dealing with something like this, just remember how hard it is and open a door for them or be patient when they’re sorting groceries for two households at the checkout. We appreciate it.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is available as a podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

The never ending cycle of re-gifting

In Children and Family, Economy, Holiday, Opinion, Uncategorized on December 22, 2016 at 11:47 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAll right, admit it. At one time or another, you’ve re-gifted something you received during the holidays – maybe even the same year! We’ve all done it, as distasteful and classless as it sounds.

Don’t pretend you don’t know what it means to re-gift something. You know, when you take something you got as a Christmas present but you find it either so useless or terrible you pass it along to someone else – often because either you dislike the person or forgot to include them on your gift list. Usually, it gets passed off as something new, rather than the holiday gift version of the hand-me-down.

Probably the most re-gifted items are fruitcakes or some type of pre-boxed gift sets. You know the type, a mix of cologne and after shave, or perfume and powder. They line the center aisle or end caps near the checkout waiting to catch the attention of the last-minute shopper who forgot Aunt Sallie or the coworker in the next cubicle.

fruitcakeAs I was thinking about this piece, I decided to around for suggestions about what kinds of things were frequently re-gifted by friends and co-workers and I got quite an array. The list included mashed potato-scented candles, gargoyle-encrusted picture frames, pine cone nightlight, super-cheap fleece throw blankets, and weird Christmas decorations made of rustic-looking wood featuring a Santa face where a reindeer’s belly should be. Other frequently re-gifted items include a tackle box-style makeup “gift set” items that could be terrible if you don’t know the individual.

One thing you have to be pretty careful about is keeping track of who gave you the gift in the fist place so as not to re-gift it back to the original giver. Oh, the shear embarrassment that would ensue when Uncle Bob opens the multi-colored, faux satin, polyester sequence shirt you just gave him for Christmas, only to have him remark how he gave you one just like it the year before. Oops!

Yeah, it happens – a lot actually. My research also turned up that there are apparently rules of etiquette involved with re-gifting and not passing it back to the original giver is close to the top of the list. You should also avoid actually opening the original packaging or using the item before re-gifting. In addition, it’s probably best not to try to reuse the original wrapping paper, as the first giver is certain to recognize it, even a year later, if they’re in your close circle of recipients.

I admit I have re-gifted a few DVDs, small art pieces, some home decor and similar items, not because they were odd or unwelcome, but more that they didn’t fit my home or interests. And I always tried to only give it to someone I thought was a good fit, not just random re-gifting. Of course, I always saved the truly hideous stuff for the occasional white elephant exchange for work.

It would seem there is no limit to what people will pass along the gift chain, and how much would you have to dislike someone to give of this stuff? It’s also entirely possible that some of these things could have been circulating around for years and years, person-to-person, Christmas tree-to-Christmas tree, until someone finally throws it away.

A review of the aforementioned list (of which I’ve only included a few examples), I have to wonder – from where and whom did the gifts originate? I mean, would someone actually purchase any of these items as a genuine gift? I can’t imagine who wouldn’t be nauseated at artificially created food scents wafting out of a candle.

But, somewhere down the line, someone made the conscious choice to buy these things and most likely with a recipient in mind. So there they are, sitting in a closet or cabinet or storage bin, waiting to be re-wrapped and given to a new recipient.

This Christmas, consider that stack of re-giftable items and think about where it might end up. Remember if that ceramic, frog-shaped toilet paper holder in your closet makes its way back into circulation, it might very well end up under your tree once more. Have a Merry Christmas!

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

 

Dare to Defy Productions Presents Children of Eden Thanksgiving Weekend

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Holiday, Local News, Music, Religion, Theatre, Uncategorized on November 2, 2016 at 8:19 am

Dayton, OH – Dare to Defy Productions is bringing the captivating musical Children of Eden to the beautiful Victoria Theatre for a limited 3 performance run Thanksgiving weekend.

photo2Featuring one of the most beautiful scores in contemporary musical theatre from the composer of GodspellPippin and WickedChildren of Eden is a heartfelt and humorous musical about the unique family bond. Inspired by the Book of Genesis, it tells the timeless story of what it means to be a parent.

From the moment you bring a child into the world everything changes; you learn to protect, cherish, and love unconditionally. But as they grow you have to learn one more thing, to finally let them go one day.

The Dare to Defy production of Children of Eden stars John Benjamin, Alan Ruddy, Esther Hyland and is directed by Mackensie King with music direction by Lorri Topping and choreographed by Lisa Glover.

“This is the perfect show for families over the Thanksgiving weekend,” said Dare to Defy Productions photo1Executive Director, Becki Norgaard. “It has great music and a wonderful, family story that can be enjoyed by all ages and backgrounds.”

Show times are November 25 at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 26th. Tickets are available at the Ticket Center Stage Box Office located in the Schuster Center, by calling (937) 228-3630 or online at ticketcenterstage.com Senior, military and student discounts available at the box office. For more information visit the Dare to Defy website at d2defy.com.

The positivity of laughter

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Local News, Media, Music, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on July 26, 2016 at 9:28 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGORecently the entertainment industry lost a legend in television comedy, Gary Marshall, who gave us hours of laughs with “Happy Days,” “Mork & Mindy,” and many other shows. I often wonder how someone can be so innately funny and creative and how that helps them cope with life’s down sides.

In plain black and white, a “sense of humor” is nothing more than one’s ability to perceive and appreciate humor. Some aspects of humor, however, don’t resonate with everyone. While a spit-take, for example, might be hilarious to one person, another (some would say with a more ‘refined’ sense of humor) individual would find it vulgar. As with beauty, humor is in the eye of the beholder.

To me, mimes and clowns aren’t funny at all. Actually, I find both kind of creepy. But then, I have one of those senses of humor that is all over the place. I’m never certain what’s going to tickle my funny bone.

My friend Jim Karns can make me laugh just by walking into a room, a fact I hope he’s never taken negatively. Jim and I started working together on stage in the late 1990s and he joined my family variety show, The Brothers & Co., in 2004. It’s part of our shared role to create comedy routines for the show, but they generally originate from an accidental punch line or a word that cracked us up.

We’ve known each other for more than two decades and we’re very different people. But our sense of humor aligns us to a level of craziness sometimes only we understand. Sometimes, all it takes is a word or phrase to set us off. Case in point – the casaba melon.

THIS is a casaba melon. Not all that funny by itself.

THIS is a casaba melon. Not all that funny by itself.

What’s so funny about a casaba melon? I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen one. All I know is that one evening at a rehearsal, one of us responded to a random question by saying, “… because casaba melons are out of season,” and that was it. Our sides were splitting the rest of the evening.

No, it’s not that funny by itself. But, to us, it was hysterical. Sometimes it hits so hard, I can’t breathe or, no kidding, I actually fall out of my chair laughing.

Not everyone loses it that way and I have only one theory as to why it happens to us in that fashion. William Shakespeare said that all the world is a stage and, clearly, life is a mixture of tragedy and comedy, as life is imitated in art.

We all experience our share of tragedy. For Jim and I, we share the common experiences of the long term caring for and loss of our mothers to early disease, painful divorce, and similar job stresses.

To us however, and the rest of my Brothers & Co. family, I think, humor relieves that stress in a positive way that benefits more than just us. Our audiences benefit from what comes out of it and finds its way into our show.

We are not drinkers or gamblers, nor do we spend money on elaborate vacations to unwind from life’s stressors. Instead, a laugh is our elixir, our tonic and our escape. When my brother became ill a year ago, and the outlook was grim, we laughed our way through it, regardless of what the result was going to be.

Thankfully, he recovered, and is, for the most part, his smiling self again. This is in no small part thanks to our resistance to the darkness that could have taken over our hearts and minds without our sense of humor.

Gery Deer & Jim Karns in Whips & Wands ...

Gery Deer & Jim Karns in Whips & Wands …

All of this begs the question: does a strong and natural sense of humor also imply an unusually high level of optimism? I’m not a psychologist but I’d have to guess there is something to that suggestion. I’m not always optimistic, but it’s tough to get me to buy into the negative.
Even though most people overestimate their sense of humor, who cares? Isn’t that up to you? If you think you’re funny, the only time it matters whether anyone else does is if you’re planning to become a comedian. Otherwise, laugh at whatever you want. But watch out for those casaba melons.

Gery L. Deer is an independent casaba melon thrower. Deer In Headlines is usually full of it, so why are you reading this? More at deerinheadlines.com

GREENE COUNTY PERFORMERS HEADLINE WILD WEST SHOW AT ANNIE OAKLEY FESTIVAL

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, history, Local News, Media, National News, Sports News, Uncategorized on July 26, 2016 at 9:15 am

Greenville, OH – Jamestown whip artist Gery L. Deer and Xenia thrown weapons expert, Kirk Bass, will lead a full troupe of whip artists, trick ropers, knife throwers and other Wild West arts experts during the 2016 American Western Arts Showcase during Annie Oakley Festival, July 29 and 30, at York Woods, 6129 Reed Road, Ansonia, OH 45303. The event is free and open to the public.

Presented in the spirit of the stage-style Wild West shows of the late 19th Century, each production will include some detailed history about how these arts came to be and who still practices them today. In addition to performing, Gery Deer is also the show’s producer and chief backer.

“This is a one-of-a-kind show in this region,” Deer says. “We have some of the best Wild West arts entertainment anywhere in the Midwest with real practitioners of each skill,” says Deer, who started the event in Jamestown, Ohio, in 2002. “These are talented performers with genuine ability, no fakery, no tricks. Everything you see in our show is real and all of our shows are in 3-D and high definition!”

Champion knife thrower Kirk Bass, of Xenia, Ohio, is co-producer of the event. He and his daring wife Melodee are among the performers to take the open-air stage for two shows on Saturday, July 30 beginning at 1 p.m. with a series of western arts perform the suspenseful Bass Blades impalement show, and much more.

Whip marksmanship competitions headline the afternoon show beginning with the National Whip Speed and Accuracy Exhibition Competition, the world’s only Bullwhip Fast Draw contest. Plus, there is a brand new contest taken straight from the big screen.

AOF_3_GLD

David Crain vs. Luke Taylor in the American Western Arts Showcase “Bullwhip Fast Draw” competition at Annie Oakley Festival at York Woods.

In 1981, a fedora-wearing, leather-clad archaeologist threw the crack heard round the world when he “whipped” a pistol from the hand of a jungle guide. At the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones demonstrated his skills with the holstered fast-draw of a 10-foot bullwhip, all while having to spin around to take aim first.

In the spirit of Dr. Jones’ proficiency, this year’s Showcase competition will include a special “blind fast draw,” where whip artists must mimic the move used in the film to turn, draw their holstered whip and shoot at a target with speed and accuracy.

“With the popularity of Indiana Jones among western performers, particularly whip artists, it’s odd this hasn’t been done before,” says Deer, who holds multiple, national whip speed and accuracy titles and is the director of The Whip Artistry Studio, the only permanent whip training facility in America. Contests begin at 1 p.m., followed immediately by a matinee performance at 2:30.

At 5:00p.m., visitors to the festival will see the Grand Western Showcase hosted by AOF_5_GLDthe music and comedy of Greene County’s own, The Brothers & Co. Variety Show. “We pull out all the stops on Saturday evening,” says Deer. “The Brothers & Co. Variety Show is an Americana-styled musical variety show from a by-gone era, full of comedy, magic, and some of the best four-part music on stage today. There will be nothing else like this anywhere at the festival!”

The event is sponsored by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., The Brothers & Co. Variety Show, and the Annie Oakley Festival Committee. All performances are family friendly and presented on the grounds of the Annie Oakley Festival. For links to the festival and sneak previews of the performers plus more information go online to ohiowesternarts.org.

Support your local county fair.

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Local News, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized on July 26, 2016 at 9:09 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Photo courtesy Jack Delano, a county fair in Georgia Taken in October 1941.

Photo courtesy Jack Delano, a county fair in Georgia Taken in October 1941.

As summer winds down, county fairs are an institution prominent since the middle 19th Century. For some families, the county fair is the highlight of the summer. It represents the culmination of the agricultural year in crops, livestock, and education.

As I was growing up, the fair signaled the end of summer and provided what was, for lack of a better description, my vacation. I spent my summers in 4-H, working on every type of project from beef cattle and bicycle rodeos to first aid and rocketry. The weeks leading up to the fair were always packed with activity for me and the benefits are farther reaching than just the immediate event.

Most regional organizations exhibit at the fair including Boy and Girl Scouts, Rotary and Grange, and, most notably for youth, 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). The junior fair events were designed to showcase these organizations and meet the needs of farm families to help provide educational opportunities.

What most children love is the opportunity to get close to live farm animals. Youth exhibitors have their livestock boarded at the fair through the week either awaiting show times or auction. During that time, visitors can see and often pet the animals, with the permission of the owners, and ask questions about them.

While strongly focused on rural interests, the fair isn’t only about farming. Music and variety entertainment is in no short supply on the fairground. Multiple stages and grandstand events offer everything from local garage bands to big-name entertainers. And those with an artistic eye have plenty to see as well!

While some people might believe that the only artwork to be seen at a county fair consists of macaroni pictures, they’d be incredibly wrong. If it’s art you’re interested in, some of the most amazing hand crafted artwork hangs on the display walls at the fair. Fine art buildings on the fairground become temporary museums to local artisanship.

Anyone may submit for judging hand artwork, needlepoint, quilting, photography, pottery and a myriad of other artistic work. Contestants need not be part of the 4-H, FFA or other organized groups, in order to enter. The resulting exhibits are diverse and eye-catching, on display from hobbyist and professional alike, judged equally.

Those familiar with the PBS series, “Antiques Roadshow,” might enjoy a tour of the antiques exhibit. Each year, the fair hosts a contest of antiques from every category, including glass, metals, wood and rare items. As with art, the exhibitors are local residents, hoping for a little notoriety out of a family heirloom or favorite antique or collectable – all on display for the enjoyment of the patrons.

Strolling through all of these exhibits, visitors may notice colored ribbons. Each one represents the achievement level of the participant in his or her category of judging. The awards may not be the ultimate goal, but for someone who plans on a career in livestock demonstrating an award-winning history can go a long way towards securing a professional establishment later.

But the fair is certainly not just for the exhibitors. What good is all this effort if no one comes to visit? Offering everything from food and rides to shows and educational opportunities, the family entertainment value of the county fair is tough to beat.

Generally, admission runs under $10 for adults, less for kids, seniors and veterans, and weekly passes are often available at a discounted rate. Often, the gate ticket allows access to everything on the grounds, although there is generally an additional fee for high-profile grandstand events.

My home fair in Greene County, Ohio, opens July 31 this year and runs until the following Saturday. Having started in 1839, it is has moved locations several times, but remains the longest running county fair west of the Alleghenies. If you’re in the area, check it out. You can learn more at greenecountyfairgrounds.com.

If you have a county fair near you, take the time to spend the afternoon there this year. In addition to getting a great day of family-oriented fun, you are supporting the local community. Get out and enjoy the fair.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com

Confronting your greatest fear

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on April 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

In the aftermath of the 1974 Xenia tornado, people in surrounding communities did what they could to help with the cleanup. Although my father was a teacher at the vocational school at the time, he also had heavy trucks so we went to help as well.

Everywhere you looked was devastation. Stunned families cried or stared blankly as broken water mains sprayed the splintered remains of unrecognizable homes. It was horrific. Even as a first-grader, what I saw that first day among the shattered remains of Xenia was inexorably seared into my memory and cultivated a fear of storms that’s hard for me to, even now, put into words.

During my first couple of years of college, I was fortunate enough to live at home and commute. One after class I went home and settled in to watch a movie and scarf down some drive thru before hitting the books. It was a dark, rainy day and the sky had that “look” about it.

Ever since that day in 1974, I’ve been keenly aware of unstable weather, as if I had some kind of built in, biological barometer in my head and this was one of those days when that sense was at its peak.

As I plowed through my burger and onion rings in front of the TV, the power flickered several times, but I did my best to ignore it. I was home alone, and as the wind and rain picked up, the trees in the valley surrounding our small farm it sounded like wild animals roaring in the distance.

At one point, I ventured out the back door and stood behind the house, watching the clouds off to the southwest. The wind became still. The rain stopped. It was dead quiet. I walked to the other side of the house for a better view on the far side of our barn. And there it was. About a hundred yards away, spinning down from the sky to the pasture in front of me – a tornado. It was small, gray, kicking up debris and dancing its way across the field in front of me as if with some kind of purpose in mind.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3.

The 1974 Xenia Tornado was one of hundreds in a massive storm outbreak on April 3. This is probably the most famous photo taken of the giant twister from Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart.

I was frozen; not with fear, but with fascination. There it was, right in front of me, the thing I feared most; no, more than that. It was the only thing I’d ever been afraid of. Any normal person would have bolted to the nearest cellar. But I didn’t. I stood there, motionless.

A moment later, the funnel met the ancient wooden sideboards of one of my dad’s old farm trucks and they exploded into splinters with a sound like the cracking of a dozen brittle bones. I still didn’t move. I wasn’t afraid at all.

It seemed like it took an eternity for it to cross the 10-acre spread of pasture field, but it was probably more like 30 seconds. It bounced across the road a quarter mile away, circumvented one neighbor’s home completely but then crashed into an adjacent barn, destroying it in the blink of an eye and scattered bits of wood, sheet metal and hay for miles. I stood there, still motionless, taking it all in.

And as quickly as it came, it was gone. After it wrecked the barn across the road, it dissolved into nothing. A moment later, I realized I was being soaked by rain but still staring off across the field. It left a path of small debris along the way and mashed down the high grass as if some kids had tromped a trail through the field. But it was over. And any fear I once felt of these storms was gone.

As I got older, I studied everything I could about tornadoes, even going on a few local storm chases back in school. Over the years, I faced with two more of the swirling monsters but no longer fear any kind of storm. Today I am respectful of their power and unpredictability and still have a sixth sense when things aren’t right in the wind. The best thing any of us can do during Ohio’s tornado seasons is to be alert and prepared.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com.

Exercise and de-clutter this spring.

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Health, Opinion, psychology on March 24, 2016 at 11:02 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOSpring has sprung and, even though temperatures aren’t quite sweltering yet, it’s time to get off that couch and get moving. No more excuses. You can do it! It’s time to get things done and here are two ideas to help.

If your goal is to get into a new outdoor workout routine, it’s best to get started sooner than later. I can’t help you much on running or some of the other athletics, but, for our would-be bicyclists out there, here are some suggestions from my own experience.

Growing up where I did, a bike was a necessity. Early on, I had to learn the rules of the road, long before there were “bike paths,” or lanes anywhere around our farm. So, my first recommendation for would be cyclers, do your homework.

Before you hit the road, be sure that you know the available routes and trails understand the rules. Hit up the local parks and recreation websites to learn about off-road, public trails and street-based bike routes.

Take extra care to plan out your route with each excursion and take a friend. It’s best not to ride alone on back roads or on isolated trails. Use the buddy system to stay safe.

Since many bike paths replaced former railroad lines, some of them go through small towns and take you onto sidewalks and thoroughfares. Be sure to watch for directional signs, both at eye level and painted on the pavement.

Make sure your cycle is in good shape as well. If you don’t do that kind of stuff, take it in for professional maintenance. Nothing’s worse than being stranded from a poorly maintained chain or crank.

Another thing that’s great about this time of year is the fresh start it brings. So how about those of you for whom a spring goal is to clear out the garage, basement or storage rental. It’s good for the living space and great exercise.

12903726_10153764334789342_1452602020_oMy friend Tami Doling is the owner of Silver Lining Organizers, LLC, and a fellow contributor to the WDTN-TV2 Living Dayton program, as well as Dayton Parent Magazine. She has some great advice on her website and blog on how to clear out the clutter, but it all begins with list of some pretty tough questions.

In her “ask the organizer” blog at Dayton Parenting Magazine, Tami offers the following “test” you can take to decide whether to keep something or not.

Begin by asking yourself the following: do you love it? Would you buy it again? Is it broken? Is it worth cleaning and storing? Can someone else use it?

I’d probably expand on the “cleaning and storing” question a bit further. For example, if you haven’t properly maintained an item, that is, you didn’t keep it well cleaned or stored, why would you start now? Probably time to chuck it.

But possibly my favorite of Tami’s advice is her 60 second rule. “If it takes you more than 60 seconds to decide to keep it,” she writes, “you probably don’t need it.” She also suggests that you try not to do too much at once. You could get blindsided by a sense of being a bit overwhelmed.

“Just start, and start small,” Tami says. “Pick a closet or drawer. Empty it and get rid of anything that you no longer need or use. Enjoy the clutter free area and use that feeling to motivate you as you tackle the next area.”

For the last several months, I’ve been in a state of consistent de-cluttering at home. I’ve thrown away things I didn’t even remember keeping, or why they were still there. Broken lamps, old VCRs, TV remotes – why did I keep old TV remotes?

This spring, I’m using the good weather to clear out a great many other areas too, and you can do the same. You can find more of Tami Doling’s articles, TV spots and great ideas about organizing and de-cluttering at silverliningorganizers.com.

Whether you’re starting a new exercise routine or getting some long overdue items checked off of that “honey do” list, the onset of spring is a great opportunity to start. Get up and get moving and I’ll see you outside!

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.